I ‘met’ Joy Mutter on an author Facebook site (#One Stop Fiction) last year. We started chatting and got along really well. She helped me edit my first novel and picked up a few errors nobody else had found for which I am tremendously grateful. I read her book ‘The Hostile,’ which was weird and wonderful. I wanted to know more about the person who wrote this strange story, so she agreed I interviewed her. Read on to find out more about this lovely lady.
You weren’t a writer all your life, but have been in the book industry for a long time. What did you do and how did you roll into writing?
For decades, I had no spare time to write professionally, although I have written since childhood for my own amusement. I was too busy looking after my husband and daughter on a smallholding in Kent while also running a graphic design business. I gave up graphic design in 2002, following my divorce. After a few crazy years reinventing myself, I knuckled down to write seriously in 2007. I’ve never stopped since and have no intention of doing so. In my fifties, I worked in a call centre in Tunbridge Wells for five years, writing in my spare time. None of my books had been published. In 2011, my back gave out. I was medically discharged from work after being told my permanent slipped disc was incurable. Never having claimed any benefits, I wasn’t about to start. I opted to try to turn a negative into a positive. My daughter was working in Stockport, so I boldly decided to sell my small house in Kent and move north to Oldham and buy a cheaper one to fund my writing, despite never having visited the area.
A change of job took my daughter back south a year later, so I’m alone. Living alone in an unfamiliar place can be viewed as an advantage, because writing is an insular occupation. In 2013, I met Diane at a local writing group. She gave me the encouragement and confidence to self-publish the books I’d written. I enjoyed the CreateSpace and KDP process so much that I’ve self-published nine books on Amazon. Book ten, the third paranormal thriller in ‘The Hostile’ series, is progressing well.
At the moment, you are a full-time writer. What does your average day look like?
My working day usually starts at 10 each morning until 6, seven days a week. It’s a mix of writing, editing, designing and marketing my books, but I try to write 2,000 words a day, occasionally over 5,000 a day when I’m on a roll. I could continue writing in the evening, but I believe doing something different is important; it keeps the writing fresh. My eyes are usually stinging by then anyway. Saying that, I often carry on marketing my books until bedtime. Writing is a full-time occupation; everything I do each day is related to it in some way. Every stranger I meet is a potential new reader. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, and Tesco deliverymen fear me. Yes, I can be a book bore, as it’s my passion.
Of the nine books you have out now, you mentioned your paranormal crime thriller ‘Random Bullets’ is doing the best so far (I’m expecting many more to come 🙂 ). Why do you think that is?
More than any other, ‘Random Bullets’ was written from the heart, because it deals with a subject I’ve suffered from personally; disinheritance. I was disinherited by my crazy father for no reason I’m aware of, just as Edward, the protagonist of ‘Random Bullets,’ was disinherited by his mother, although Edward and I dealt with the trauma differently. It’s set partly in Jersey, where I was born. I was interviewed in February 2016 by two BBC Radio 4 producers as part of their Analysis programme on inheritance. They’d heard that ‘Random Bullets’ deals with the divisive subject of disinheritance and its aftermath.
Is ‘Random Bullets’ also your personal favourite or is there another one?
‘Random Bullets’ will probably always be my favourite. It has gained the most 5-star reviews, although my latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ comes a close second. It’s unusual and readers have been extremely complimentary about it. Each book is special to me in its own way. With not wanting to limit myself to writing just one genre, I’ve published a book of short stories called ‘Her demonic Angel,’ a character-led novel called ‘Potholes and Magic Carpets,’ a non-fiction book about postcards, three autobiographies making up the ‘Mug’ trilogy, and three paranormal crime thrillers. My latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ also has elements of horror in it.
You recently landed a job as an editor. What is your greatest peeve when reviewing books for indie authors?
I’m an accidental editor. I fell into it in 2016 while reading a book when I was part of a book launch team on Facebook. I’ve been part of several Facebook launch teams and have my own team for my latest book, ‘Holiday for The Hostile.’ The book that gained me my first editing job had already been edited, but had not yet been published. After discovering hundreds of errors in his book, I was concerned and messaged the author, sending him a long list of typos. He asked me to edit his book. The money he’d paid the first editor was returned to him, so he could pay me. Although I was busy working on my own books, I agreed to edit his. It’s now been published and is gaining great reviews. I dread to think what would have happened if he’d published it as it was. He mistakenly thought he could trust the editor to do a professional job because money had exchanged hands. In this case, not so.
I’ve developed a habit of marking typos on my Kindle as I read. I don’t consciously look for errors, they jump out at me. I must have that kind of brain. If I know the author on social media, I offer to send a Word document with all the errors I’ve stumbled upon while reading their book. I’d hope they’d do the same for me if they find any in mine. I edit my own books, especially as my trust in many editors has been shattered after finding scores, sometimes hundreds, of errors in books editors have been paid hundreds of pounds to work on. Editors, please don’t indignantly jump down my throat. I know there are probably many brilliant editors out there; it’s finding them that’s the problem.
In January 2017, I agreed to proofread three books a month for a crime thriller publishing company. This came about after I sent a list of typos to another author after reading their ‘professionally’ edited book. The author is also the owner of a publishing company and asked me if I’d check their edited books for errors before publication. As I read crime thrillers anyway as my genre of choice, proofreading three thrillers a month is perfect. I’ve enjoyed reading the first books I was sent, and eliminated many typos. I’m looking forward to next month’s thrillers. I still have plenty of time to work on my own books. Long may it continue.
You make your own audio books. How long does it take you to make one and what equipment do you use?
I’ve produced audiobook editions for ‘Her demonic Angel,’ my collection of short stories in various genres, and also for ‘The Hostile.’ I intend making audiobooks for several of my other books. I tend to earn more from my audiobooks than from my Kindles and paperbacks, possibly because there’s less competition. I narrate and sound edit them myself, although I have an actor friend who’s narrating the audiobook version of ‘Random Bullets.’ He loved reading the book and kindly offered to narrate it for me.
It usually takes me a month of constant, demanding work to record and sound edit one of my audiobooks. I own a professional microphone, headphones, pop filter, etc. and record onto my laptop in my small spare bedroom. I use Audacity software to record and edit, and ACX to publish my audiobooks on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. If I was wealthy, I’d pay someone to make my audiobooks because it’s so time consuming. As an Indie author, I’ve paid nothing to produce all aspects of my books in Kindle format, paperback, and audiobook. I do every part of the work myself, including designing the covers, book interiors, and promotional material. Having been a professional graphic designer for over twenty years has been extremely useful, so it’s a delight to design my own books after having to do it for other authors over the years.
Your books, ‘The Hostile’ and ‘Holiday for The Hostile,’ are about a bathroom tile with powers. Where did you come up with that idea?
I’m now writing book three of ‘The Hostile’ series. It’s funny to think these three books came about solely from spotting a strange face on a small tile on my shower room floor. I started to ask myself, ‘What if…?’ I’ve had a powerful imagination all my life, so the rest is history. I love it when readers tell me books in ‘The Hostile’ series are the most unusual they’ve ever read.
Do you have a list of stories for books in the pipeline, having started one (or more) before finishing the other, or do you go with the flow, writing one after the other is finished?
My life has been a series of go-with-the-flow moments. I don’t meticulously plot my fiction books. The only book I plotted was my non-fiction book ‘Living with Postcards.’ My autobiographical ‘Mug’ trilogy was fact, not fiction, so no plot needed to be worked out. My fiction books tend to evolve, with ideas sparking off while I write. Writer’s block has never been a problem for me, so far. I’m often as excited as the reader to discover what’ll happen in a story. Many of the most successful elements in my books come about by chance, through allowing the characters to speak to me. It starts with a general, central idea, but of the characters dictate the direction the story will take, as new ideas develop during the writing. At times, it feels as though the characters are writing the book, not me. I’m merely their portal and mouthpiece. I tend to write one book at a time, to do each one justice and to concentrate my thinking, although I usually have an idea what the next book will be by the time a book is at the editing stage. I have ideas bubbling away for another book of short stories. Some might develop into an entire book.
What is the best part of writing that you like?
There are so many wonderfully satisfying elements involved in being a writer, so it’s hard to single out the one I like best. Every part of the writing and self-publishing process is enjoyable to me, from the initial idea through to writing, editing, designing, publishing, interacting with other authors and readers. I’m one of those weird authors who enjoys editing. I make at least four drafts of each of my books and made eight drafts for one of them. My only regret is not starting writing full-time decades ago, as there aren’t enough hours in a day to perform each element that goes into the process of publishing a book. One of the best parts of writing is when a flash of inspiration sparks in my brain and I head off on an uncharted voyage of discovery. Meet-the-author events and book signings are fun too. I’m giving another talk next week about my life as an author, and particularly about my non-fiction book, ‘Living with Postcards.’ I’m even being paid for giving this talk. Another huge high every author enjoys is receiving a glowing five-star review from a satisfied reader.
You can find all of Joy Mutter’s books here.